Lent, 2nd Week, Wednesday, Mar 11th

Jeremiah 18:18-20 / Matthew 20:17-28
Jesus talks about greatness: “The greatest is the one who serves.”

Jesus turns the world’s value system upside down. He measures a person’s greatness very differently from the way the world does. The world measures personal greatness by the number of people one controls, by the number of degrees one holds, by the number of committees one chairs. Jesus considers such numbers to be irrelevant. For Jesus there’s only one set of numbers that has any value, and that is the number of people one helps. Service is the thing that counts with Jesus: a nurse’s service to patients, a pastor’s service to parishioners, a parent’s service to children.
Whose value system do we tend to follow in the practical order? “Before the Christian goes to church, let him visit the hospital. Before he reads the Bible, let the Christian help the beggar.” (Toyohiko Kagawa)
Whenever we think about the Old Testament prophets, we may have this image of a fearless preacher of the Word of God, a rough-cut person dressed in animal skin and leading an ascetic life, much like John the Baptist.

Yet in the 1st reading, we see the very human side of the prophet Jeremiah as he faced his trials and tribulations of being a prophet of God. Jeremiah was a gentle and peaceful person, but he found himself in trouble for his prophetic words. Quite unable to handle the persecution, he laments to God. In all this, we see the very human side of the prophet Jeremiah.

In the gospel, we also saw the very human side of the apostles. Jesus told them about his impending suffering and death. And yet, they seem to have other things in mind, other worldly things. Our human side also succumb to the distractions of the worldly and we too forget about what Jesus came for. One of the prayer forms for the season of Lent is to take the crucifix and to just hold it in our hands during prayer.

The cross will remind us of why Jesus came and what our hearts should be focused upon. May the cross of Christ also protect us from evil and give us strength in our trials.

Lent 2nd Week, Wed - Liturgy

A prophet is always an annoying person. His mission is to call attention to the signs of the times – to denounce what no one dares denounce, to prod into action when all stand still and like to take it easy. His task is unpleasant and he carries it out reluctantly. For he is a scared man. He pleads to be excused. For he always gets into trouble. He may even be killed. That was the lot of the prophets before him and then Jesus’ lot – but through his death he won glory and brought life. Those who follow him, however timid they may be as prophets, have to share in this suffering-toward-life. They must at least learn to serve; even dedicated service brings often suffering.

Penitential Rite:
-       When people plot against us as they did to the prophets and we shall learn to rely on the Lord
-       Even as our enemies dig a pit for us to fall, we shall not pay them with evil
-       As you call us not for positions but to serve and not to be served

Opening Prayer
Lord our God, your prophets remind us in season and out of season of our responsibilities toward you and toward the world of people. When they disturb and upset us, let it be a holy disturbance that makes us restless, eager to do your will and to bring justice and love around us. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. 

General Intercession
–   For the Church, that it may imitate the Lord Jesus and be a serving Church, we pray:
–   For prophets who remind us that we have to live up to our faith, that we may listen to them, we pray:
–   For all of us, that as followers of a suffering Lord, we may grow as Christians and as human beings by the way we carry our crosses, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord God, your Son comes among us and asks us: “Can you drink my cup with me?” Give us the strength to accept any suffering with him for the sake of your kingdom, for we know it is the signature on the life of the true disciple. May it be a suffering that brings life to us and to our brothers and sisters. This is the offering we make to you through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son went his journey to the cross knowing what awaited him, but also knowing that his suffering and death would mean life and joy for many. Give us a bit of his courage, Lord, that we may not be escapists in life, but that we may speak out and act when your kingdom is at stake or when we are asked to serve. Let your Son be with us, now and forever.